At Willingdon Community School we really value our alumni relations which if open to all former students and staff. As staff we want to hear about out former pupil's success stories and also feel that sharing these success stories could be an inspiration to our current students.
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I went to Willingdon school MANY years ago when the school was much smaller, and only the boys had to wear school ties and blazers!!! I loved school, and had the best time here, in particular my PE lessons.
After school I went to Eastbourne 6th form college – which is now East Sussex College (Eastbourne Campus). I studied French, Geography and Biology A level, plus GCSE PE ( as this did not exist in schools at this time!) I found A levels very difficult and a massive jump from GCSE’s. However I managed to scrape through them and through the clearing process secured a place at the University of Greenwich where I trained to become a PE teacher. I LOVED university , it was so much fun and totally different from college. I loved living away from home, and being way more independent.
After Uni , I took a year out and travelled around Australia. I highly recommend travelling – it was one of the best experiences of my life, and led me to travel more at later stages in my life. I also started applying for jobs during this year, and was lucky to get a job at Willingdon….. where I have been 2nd in dept for PE, Head of Year and Assistant Headteacher.
Willingdon is such a great school, and been the foundation for many of my memories and experiences!! The kids are fab, and one of the reason why I have stayed for so long!!
After five awesome years growing up at Willingdon, I had the privilege to go to Eastbourne college on a scholarship. Whilst going to college here was only two years, my experience was unforgettable!
I was keen to make the most of my short time at college, and with that mantra, I was fortunate enough to do many things. My experiences ranged from traveling the country competing in international debate competitions, ball-boying for tennis players like Andy Murray, becoming a senior prefect, starting a business from scratch and pitching to business reps from the likes of Disney and HSBC, to even flying a plane at an Air force base as an RAF corporal.
My time at college though was sometimes testing, especially at the start where I really struggled to make the transition. But I was humbled to meet so many new people from around the world who helped me settle, many of who I am still in contact today, and I finished my time at Eastbourne with an A level in English, Maths and History.
As someone who has a broad scope of interests, I never had one career goal in mind. This was frustrating at times, but also exciting! It was because of this I realised I did not want to go to university, and instead I wanted start making a difference in the world of work straight away. After COVID cut my college experience short, I spent the next 8 months trying to gain life experience away from the extracurricular and academics of school. This led me to volunteering, learning languages (I forgot these very quickly!), and working in new environments like building sites and hotels. I was honoured at the end of this to return to where it all started… at Willingdon School as a teaching assistant.
My time at Willingdon on the other side has been an invaluable insight to helping others, and it especially helped knowing my way around the building already. This year I have learnt so much on the diversity of life and have worked with some remarkable young minds. There will always be some old schoolteachers though I can never bring myself to call by their first names, whether I am staff or not!
My time as an LSP and Receptionist had given me a firm foundation for when I start my next career chapter as a Police officer, where I will be an Apprentice officer studying to a Policing degree.
My time at Willingdon and the people I met there have been so significant to who I am and where I will go in my future! To them I thank you, and I hope to be back one day soon – maybe giving talks in my new police uniform!
Sergeant Brook Stebbings
Throughout my childhood, my parents would take me to Eastbourne Air Show every summer. I loved watching the air displays from the beach and one that really resonated with me was the RAF Falcons Parachute Display team.
I was fascinated and thought maybe I could be a Falcon one day. From collecting their autographs then, I now find myself signing them.
I attended Willingdon Primary and then Willingdon Community School, leaving in 2004 with 5 GCSEs. I then went on to Park College to do a BTEC in Sport and Exercise Science. I played a variety of sports both individual and team which was an important requisite for joining the RAF as a PTI (Physical Training Instructor) at the age of 22.
To join the RAF as a PTI you need at least 2 GCSEs including Maths and English and show ability in several sports and if you are county level or higher in any sport that will also stand you in good stead. You need to be fit, a team player and keen to join the services.
After Basic Training you then go on to trade training (PTI) which is 6 months long before being posted to training unit or a station gym where you plan and run exercise classes, sports events, expeditions alongside your service job as a Corporal.
After some time in these roles, you can specialise as a Parachute Jump Instructor (PJI), a Exercise Remedial Instructor (ERI) or a Force Development Instructor (FDI).
As a PJI I teach troops across all three services including the preparation and techniques from exiting the aircraft to landing from a variety of various situations. Our training takes place in the UK but also in Cyprus and California where there is more guarantee of good weather to jump!
After promotion to Sergeant, I was selected to be an RAF Falcon in 2018 for a 3 year post and display all over the UK and Europe at Airshows and big events – the most recent being Eastbourne Armed Forces Day and Silverstone F1 Grand Prix.
My current typical day when preparing for a public display involves attending briefings about weather conditions, the jump profile, walk through talk through and preparing kit for the jump.
Behind the scenes when we are not jumping we are organising displays or involved in military parachuting within the Airborne Delivery Wing. If you feel inspired by my story, please come along to one of our displays and say hello! Follow us on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.
As a student at Willingdon School, I always enjoyed science and geography. I attended Lewes College to complete A Levels in Chemistry, Biology and Geography. Although I had from an early age wanted to go into Veterinary science decided to take an alternative less competitive pathway at Southampton University.
In my first year, I studied many different science modules and decided that in my second year I wanted to change from Molecular Cell Biology to Biochemistry. This enabled me to study pharmacology and additional chemistry.
Since leaving school, I worked in various areas of retail during the weekends and holiday whilst I continued to study at College and University. Upon graduating, I started applying for my first “real job”. I was lucky enough to be offered a place at the first job I applied for working in Pirbright at the Institute for Animal Health. It was on a DEFRA funded project testing vaccine efficacy for Foot and Mouth Disease in cattle. This was an amazing experience but the daily commute of some 140 miles took its toll on me over my two-year employment. I knew that I needed a job nearer to Eastbourne and decided to make the jump into education, as this had always been a career choice at the back of my mind .
I completed my PGCE in Secondary Science at Brighton University and after a very difficult and hostile first placement in a grammar school, I was lucky enough to secure Willingdon for my second placement. I began teaching at Willingdon the following September. The rest is history and many years later, I am still part of the amazing science team at Willingdon.
I left Willingdon Community School in 2016. 5 years on I have returned to the school to work as an LSP. Not only did I love attending the school, but it also gave me the best foundations to go and achieve my goals.
Since leaving Willingdon I was awarded an Academic and Equestrian Scholarship to allow me to attend Moira House Girls School where I did my A levels. Here I studied biology, P.E. and philosophy whilst still being able to focus on my horse riding. Attending Moira House, provided me with the most amazing opportunities, academically and socially. I was able to compete in sports like lacrosse, hockey, show jumping and swimming. Upon leaving Moira House I was awarded the Philosophy award.
After completing my A levels, I was then able to go onto to study a Degree through the Open University in Education. I chose the Open University as it allowed me to carry on working and gaining experience whilst living at home so I could continue my commitment to my horses.
Working at Willingdon as an LSP has allowed me to experience working within a school with amazing children. I am based working in Year 10 and 11 with my focus being maths. Furthermore, I was given the opportunity of teaching some Unqualified Teaching hours. I have been teaching maths now, within these lessons to Year 10 and 11’s, for around 18 months. It is a pleasure working at Willingdon and I hope I can progress onto a career within the education system alongside my passion for horse riding with my horse Blue.
I attended Willingdon from 2010-2015, and became the Head Girl in my final year. At school I really enjoyed science, PE and art, and was keen to always involve myself in extracurricular activities from Young Enterprise to sports competitions such as town sports.
My love of science at school led me to apply for the Bright Med program, which is a medical outreach program running at the University of Sussex from Year 9-13. This was an amazing experience that gave me a unique insight into what life as a medical student and doctor could be like. In the early years we spent time learning things such as how to take a patient history, whereas, in the later years we got to conduct our own research projects and stay at the university for a residential weekend, in which we were lucky enough to work with cadavers.
After Willingdon, I managed to gain an academic scholarship to study Biology, Chemistry, Maths and Economics at Eastbourne College. Following this, I applied to study Biomedical Science at Cardiff University. Alongside my studies, I volunteered with several charities that I care passionately for, including St Johns ambulance, STAR, which provides a safe space and conversational English classes for refugees, and SKIP, which is a sustainable international children’s charity working to promote sex education and HIV prevention.
Since graduating from Cardiff this year with a first-class degree, I have decided to take a gap year. This year has also given me the time to be part of groups that I am passionate about, such as being a research assistant for the COVID-19 taskforce on domestic violence, and co-founding the diversity and racial equality group, Challenge Racism. A gap year also gave me the time to take up new hobbies, such as aerial hoop and painting!
Up until Parents' Evening in Year 9 I was uncertain about my future career path. It all changed that evening when Mr Ellwood inspired me to pursue a career at the bar through his advise and belief in my ability. From this moment, I dedicated my time at Willingdon to achieving the best I could: becoming Head Girl and gaining 6A* and 4A’s at GCSE.
After leaving Willingdon in 2016, I went on to study History, English Literature and Biology at A Level at East Sussex College Lewes, achieving A*AA. This gained me an Academic Scholarship to study at the University of Kent, undertaking my undergraduate degree in Law.
Throughout my time at university, I threw myself into a variety of volunteering and extracurricular activities, such as mooting and mock trial advocacy. My involvement with the Kent Law Clinic, a pro bono legal service run on the University of Kent’s campus, gave me the most exposure to the reality of legal practice through hands on preparation of cases and frequent court visits.
The pandemic proved an unprecedented time for both my undergraduate degree and gaining formal legal experience. Despite the challenge, I graduated from the University of Kent with a First Class degree in Law. I also spent this summer undertaking a variety of legal work experience both virtually and in person.
My experience at school through to university was relevant to me being awarded the Jules Thorn Scholarship from The Honourable Society of Middle Temple, worth £12,750. This award will help me to fund the Bar Practice Course (BPC) at the University of Law in London this year.
Middle Temple is one of four Inns of Court. The Inns of Court are the historic societies that educate and train barristers in England and Wales. At Middle Temple, scholarships are awarded on merit, taking a holistic approach to each candidate.
The application process for scholarship involved a written application and interview. I submitted my application in November 2020 and was invited to interview in March 2021. I was interviewed by a panel of three at Middle Temple, including a QC, a Professor in Law and a leading criminal barrister. The interview was rigorous, testing me on my chosen areas of law and my casework with the Kent Law Clinic. I found myself relying on the skills I had learnt through my academic career to persuade the panel of my opinion on contentious legal issues.
I have also been fortunate enough to have been awarded an Advocacy Scholarship from the University of Law worth £2,000. This was based upon my previous advocacy experience and an interview involving an advocacy task.
I am due to commence the BPC in September 2021 and I hope to complete my studies in 2022. During this academic year, I aim to apply for pupillage commencing in 2023. Currently I have an interest in women’s rights. In my future career as a barrister, I hope to be able to pursue this interest, particularly in criminal law.
Advice I would give to those at school is try your best. Had it not have been from the support I received from Mr Ellwood I would not be where I am today. Make sure you listen to your teachers as it is their advice which can lead you not only to your next steps, but your future career.
For those who have an interest in law, I would highly recommend visiting Lewes Crown Court to see Crown Court trials in action. This was what convinced me that being barrister was the career for me.
After leaving Willingdon in 2019, I went on to study English Language, Psychology and triple Sport BTEC at Gildredge house. I was able to continue with all the subjects I loved thanks to my GCSE results. I achieved an A in English language, A in psychology and triple D* in sport in my exams in the summer.
This meant I was lucky enough to be accepted at my first choice University. Next year I will be off to Loughborough University to study Sports Science and English. The requirements to get onto this course were AAB at A level (this had to include either English language or literature) or DDM for BTEC courses. I also needed to have passed English and maths at GCSE. I chose this course as it is a combination of my two favourite subjects. The course looks at all my favourite areas of the two subjects and there are many opportunities to have a choice in which modules you study. This means I will be able to pick the aspects of each course that interests me the most. I also chose to go to Loughborough as they have incredible sports facilities and are one of the top ten universities in the UK. Before going to University I decided to come back to the school and was lucky enough to get the job as a learning mentor. I chose to come back as teaching is a job I may potentially be interested in and this is brilliant work experience to help me decide if it is something I want to do. Working as a learning mentor has already taught me so much and all the skills I have acquired will be transferable to any other jobs I get in the future.